Attorney Fees in Social Security Cases are Regulated by SSA

How much does it Cost to Hire an Attorney?

Most Social Security cases are handled on a contingency basis. This means that there will be no attorney’s fee unless your case is won. File expenses and other charges on your file (i.e. payments to doctors for reports) are considered out of pocket expenses, and must be paid by you at the end of your case. Your attorney will make every effort to keep these expenses to a minimum, and in most cases file expenses range from $150-500. Any large expenses, such as the cost of a medical exam, would have to be approved by you in advance. If your attorney is successful in getting you approved for benefits at the initial, reconsideration or first hearing level, the standard attorney’s fee is 25% of your past-due benefits or $6,000, (based on the fee cap in effect in 2011 as implemented by SSA) whichever is less. Social Security must approve all attorneys? fees that are charged. All on-going future benefits go to you directly.

Example 1: John Doe has worked all his life. He is injured and becomes disabled on January 1, 1990. His date last insured is December 30, 1995. He has no income other than a work related disability payment of $500 per month. John files an application for Social Security benefits on July 1, 2002. At the first hearing, the Judge decides that John’s disability began on January 1, 1990, prior to the date he was last insured for benefits. John is therefore entitled to DIB benefits from July 1, 2001 (one year prior to his date of filing) to the present and to SSI benefits from July 1, 2002 (the date of filing) to the present. John is therefore entitled to over ten years of back benefits. His legal fees will be 25% of back benefits ? capped at $6,000, all future benefits go to John directly. The file expenses were $250.

Example 2: John Doe has worked all his life. He is injured and becomes disabled on January 1, 1990. His date last insured is December 30, 1995. He has no income other than a work related disability payment of $500 per month. John files an application for Social Security benefits on July 1, 2002. At the first hearing, Johns is denied benefits. His case is appealed by his attorney to the Appeals Council and Federal Court. Following success in court, John has a new hearing. At the second hearing following remand, the Judge decides that John’s disability began on January 1, 1990, prior to the date he was last insured for benefits. John is therefore entitled to DIB benefits from July 1, 2001 (one year prior to his date of filing) to the present and to SSI benefits from July 1, 2002 (the date of filing) to the present. John is therefore entitled to over ten years of back benefits. His legal fees will be 25% of back benefits. The cap is not applicable but any fee charged will have to be approved by SSA. All future benefits go to John directly. The file expenses were $500.